January 7, 2019 7 pm EST
League of Women Voters Gun Safety Coalition Call
After the welcome from Patricia Brigham, LWV of Florida, the guest speaker was introduced.
Nico Bocour, Giffords Law Center
2018 has seen a lack of action on the Federal level, but much action on the State level, especially after the Parkland (Florida) shooting. 67 new or strengthened laws have occurred in 26 states and the District of Columbia:
Extreme Risk Protection Order policies have been enacted in eight states – with fie Republican governors.
There have been efforts to fund gun violence reduction programs.
Interventions are being introduced to reduce urban gun violence.
Disarming domestic abusers has been a policy initiative.
In polling, gun control continues to be a major issue:
Amongst Democrats, it is the second most important issue, and overall, it is the fourth most important issue.
The biggest challenge to the movement:
There is difficulty defining “extreme risk”, as the gun lobby continues to try to weaken laws.
The gun lobby is doubling down on the notion that more guns equals greater safety.
Lawmakers seem to be creating diversion programs rather than crafting actual policy.
Guns in Schools:
The gun lobby is promoting Open Carry on college campuses, and pushing to open that option to lower school systems. The strategy has encountered opposition, as private colleges have political sway and reach out to lawmakers. Law enforcement on college campuses –the gun lobby wants to change who is authorized to carry, and who is deputized. This brings into question whether they have been trained, or have law enforcement background.
There is a difference between placing law enforcement and arming school staff. Arming school staff, especially in K-12, is not popular and receiving lots of pushback.
There are suggestions of placing former military in the position of protecting schools. Bocour stated that they don’t oppose trained professionals, but oppose citizens. Acceptance depends upon language, and level of training.
The best way to fight the gun lobby is at the legislative level; actions have produced fear of the gun CONTROL lobby. We must be consistent! Keep requesting the same priorities. Continue speaking up, calling out, being informed. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint”! Stay positive…but we’re moving in the right direction.
Questions and comments from the audience:
· Mary from IL: Questioned whether there are studies of the effectiveness of metal detectors. She referenced that there aren’t mass shootings in inner city schools.
Bocour said that she would research.
· Marion from OH: Asked about status of the Universal Background Check House Bill 8.
Bocour said that she is optimistic, especially in the House.
· Kristen from SC: Stated that she is worried about institutional racism; that Children of color would be victims if school personnel were armed. She also spoke about Red Flag laws that restrict guns in the hands of dangerous individuals; she fears that judges will not take action because of 2nd amendment protections.
Bocour: Racial bias is another reason not to advocate for armed law enforcement in schools.
Historically, School Resource Officers (SRO) have not been effective; as evidenced by the SRO at Parkland who did not enter the school when the shooting began. There have been increased calls for action, with the gun lobby pushing for more guns. Again, to them, more guns equal more safety. It is an illusion of a solution. Law enforcement placement escalates the situation; responding requires a lot of training. There is also the possibility of hiring a “hypervigilant” individual. Giffords stand is not opposed to SRO, but feels that it is not the ultimate solution. We must reduce the number of firearms in public places.
· Member from IL: comment: In the case of an active shooter, it can take law enforcement 30-40 minutes to reach the site….we must reach other solutions.
Giffords organization has published a 60 page report with firearm statistics. The suicide rate is higher than the homicide rate with firearms. This is where background checks with a waiting period could impact the outcomes. Extreme Risk Laws are a tool against suicide and mass shootings. Giffords Law Center Protecting The Next Generation
Member questioned whether there has been an influence from the Me Too Movement. It has raised bipartisan support against domestic violence. NRA, however, feels that there will not be “due process” in Extreme Risk cases, and has voiced opposition.
Stand Your Ground has been re-launched, and my surface in Ohio. Legislators may push for more extreme version of Stand Your Ground in Florida and other states.
Since the NRA told doctors to “stay in your lane”, there has been an outcry from medical and Public Health groups at the state and Federal level. They are becoming more active.